… businessman objects to vendors using land, locks gate … say Royston King lied to them
Almost a dozen Police Officers took up combat positions at the Ministry of the Presidency’s Shiv Chanderpaul drive office on Tuesday, as they sought to ward off a group of angry vendors, who were relentless in their efforts to speak with President David Granger or someone close to him who could relay their plight.
The group of mostly women marched along Regent Street, after making several unsuccessful stops to get an idea of what really needed to be done to get their businesses back up and running. Their first stop at the office of Town Clerk Royston King yielded little or no result, since, up until the time of the protest, no positive word was forthcoming.
The vendors, some of whom have been in the business for decades, were removed from the outskirts of the Stabroek Market area, to facilitate a massive clean-up campaign. But the vendors, who were quite raucous, said they have been deceived by a system they trust. They casted blame on the Town Clerk, who they said, has no plans for them.
“They invited us to a meeting, but when the people come out of the meeting, they could not tell us anything. They said to give them three days to sort this out. But I just want to know, three days? How can they take three days. What will happen to us, we will have no job”, one vendor named Odessa told Guyana Times on Tuesday.
“How can they do this to us? Royston King deceived us. I am a cosmetologist and I have a three-year-old daughter. Most of the people out here have children to take care of. We don’t have anybody to brace us. We want to see the President… Those big ones have their lives already set out for them. It is us the small man, that have to try to make a life for ourselves… Mr Granger got four more years, four more years in there to do nonsense. If he wants to go back in there, he got to help us,” another young mother told this publication.
“Last year, time like this, we were protesting to get Carol Sooba out, for him to get in. But look is same thing, same thing. No difference. He tell us he got a place for us to sell, but I want to know where this place is. Up to now I aint see no place for us to sell,” another man said.
The vendors were reportedly told that they would be moved to an area South of Parliament Buildings. However, when Guyana Times showed up there on Tuesday, the gate was heavily padlocked. At the time the Town Clerk, accompanied by seniorPpolice ranks had come and peruse the area. He told this newspaper that the gates of the premises were always secured with padlocks. He said too that the Council was at the time preparing to clear up the area so that vendors could be able to access it.
In a release from the Town Council sometime later, it was noted that the area identified as the relocation for the vendors could be ready in a matter of days.
According to the release, the Town Clerk said the city has already spoken to the owner of the private land and everything stands “as per agreement.”
“We have secured permission from a private business owner to use the land for a specified period to relocate vendors who ply their trade,” King said. He noted that preparatory work is ongoing at the location, “and it is expected that in another few days, this location will be ready for the vendors to ply their trade.”
Around 10:00h on Tuesday morning, members of the Municipality’s City Constabulary also carried out a special exercise within the market area. The Town Clerk said this was “aimed at ridding the location of loiters and other individuals who have no business at the facility since they are often times impeding the way of citizens who come to do business.”
At least five trucks were filled with rubbish when the Engineer’s Department and Constabulary ranks oversaw the removal of waste in, between and around stalls located under the canopy, East of the market. The Town Clerk is adamant that the “Council’s administration is intensely focused on restoring the health and integrity of this historic structure and its immediate periphery; including the Stabroek Market Square.”
Outside of this, vendors are also asked to pick up their goods currently being held within the Council’s compound. The various bundles of commercial items that were stored along the roadway were picked up during the recent cleanup activities as these persons refused to pay a $200 fee for storage services being offered by a private citizen. The Council is returning the items which were safely placed in its compound, but reminds vendors that they are not allowed back on the streets. While the goods are being returned free of cost, the Council encourages the earliest removal of the items.
Meanwhile, Guyana Times understands that the owner of the land has not yet agreed to have vendors occupy the space until legal documentation is drawn up. According to reports, Hareshnarine Sugrim said the Town Clerk had asked him to “borrow” the land documentation from the Attorneys and the courts since according to him, “we don’t want when time meet and the three months up, they own the place… I gave him a verbal talking but I told him I need legal documents before anybody occupies the place,” Sugrim told an online news outfit. Late Tuesday evening when this newspaper visited the area city council workers were seen spreading sand at the location in the presence of King and City Constabulary officers.